The National Center for Health Leadership Competency Model: Its applicability to the South African context
Equitable access to quality health care is an essential element and a fundamental right for human development in any country. The South African health system prior to 1994 can be construed as one characterised with inequality and human development disparity. Various policies have since been promulgated and implemented to redress the inequalities of the past. Poverty related illnesses remain widespread, the reemergence of infectious diseases and social impacts are putting additional pressure on an already overburdened health system. These challenges have heightened expectations for leadership to manage the health system of the country more effectively and efficiently. A shortage of critical skills and trained health personnel have been cited as two of the major challenges for effective quality care within the health sector and have been described by The World Health Organisation as the heart of any successful health system in any country (Coovadia et al. 2009). However, there is a severe lack of formal evaluation of the competencies of hospital managers, as well as their needs for future training in South Africa. The public has become more health conscious and the request for quality care is increasing, demanding health professionals with increased levels of competence. There is a paucity of research in the health management literature that systematically specifies and assesses which competencies are important to facilitate leadership development, especially in a developing country context. The research aims to identify and determine a comprehensive set of managerial competencies for health leadership in South Africa that could enable leaders to successfully lead the health sector beyond the 21st century. The research is based on the National Center for Health Leadership (NCHL) framework that was developed through a synthesis of the literature on leadership and management competencies in health and related domains (NCHL, 2006). A survey approach using a pre tested questionnaire was administered to management in public and private sector hospitals. Respondents were asked to rate the level of importance of each of the 80 competency statements pertaining to the National Center for Health Leadership competency model.